Defensive woes lead to disappointing loss against Pacers

The Atlanta Hawks were blown out Friday night on the road against the Indiana Pacers 116-150. The Hawks tried to stop what seemed like a perfect night shooting for the Pacers but ended in the most lopsided defeat this season, separated by 34 points. Like the 157-152 loss to the Pacers on Nov. 2nd, the Hawks seemingly had no answers trying to slow down the Pacers offensive firepower.

Early, the Hawks were competitive for much of the 1st quarter knocking down back-to-back threes by Dejounte Murray and Jalen Johnson. After forcing a pair of turnovers, the Hawks were leading by 11-8 through almost 5 minutes of play. This would eventually be the last time the Hawks led through the entire game. Myles Turner would make the and-one after being fouled by Saddiq Bey and the race began. The Pacers would then go on a 6-22 run for the next 5:56.

The Hawks finished the quarter shooting 7-for-25 from the field compared to the Pacers 15-for-22. Trae Young and Bogdan Bogdanovic both missed all their field goal attempts in the quarter. The Hawks quickly found themselves behind 38-24 heading into the second.

Dejounte Murray got going in the second quarter completing 5 of his 6 field goal attempts and scoring 12 points. The Hawks 3pt shooting still struggled, however, going 1-for-9 beyond the arc. The Pacers capitalized on multiple defensive rebounds beating the Hawks in transition and continued to score at will. The Pacers closed the half making their final 9 shots for a total of 22 points. The first half ended with the Hawks trailing 54-78.

The first half was crippled by poor shooting and multiple defensive breakdowns. The Hawks shot a combined 19-for-50 from the field and 5-for-20 in 3s. Although the Hawks took care of the basketball well with only 5 turnovers, the Pacers moved the ball even better finding plenty of open looks with 23 assists.

While a Hawks victory was not quite out of sight, the writing was soon on the wall to start the third. The Pacers opened the third quarter carrying the same momentum they had towards the end of the second quarter by making their first 6 shots in a row. The scoring continued and the Hawks defense was nearly ineffective. The Pacers would total 100 points with 6:31 still left to play in the third. Shortly thereafter, Pacers Head Coach Rick Carlisle elected to begin pulling some of the starters up by 36. The Hawks were still behind 83-117 heading into the 4th quarter.

The Hawks continued to struggle defensively through the 4th quarter. Despite the Pacers playing their 2nd and 3rd string players for much of the quarter, the Hawks would still allow 33 points to finish the game. Roughly 5 minutes into the quarter Quin Snyder finally subbed in his bench signaling the defeat. The Hawks featured Trent Forrest, AJ Griffin, Seth Lundy, Garrison Matthews, and Bruno Fernando to close the game.

Overall, Dejounte Murray provided the only significant impact offensively with 30 points shooting 13-for-19 from the field. In one of Trae Young’s rougher performances this season, he finished 4-for-18 from the field and 1-for-10 from 3. Paired with Bogdan Bogdanovic shooting 3-for-14 from the field, there simply was not enough production offensively to go along with the defensive meltdown.

Coming off the nailbiter finish at home against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday, the 34-point loss to the Indianapolis Pacers underlines the defensive struggles faced by the Atlanta Hawks this season.

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